NSAIDS May Offer Protection Against Alzheimer’s Disease

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Researchers have found evidence that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) including ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen, may exert a protective effect against the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Results of their epidemiological, multiple-study analysis of nearly 16,000 patients are being presented at the 2003 American Academy of Neurology Annual Meeting.

Researchers from the University of Toronto and the University of Washington collected data from nine studies that evaluated the use of NSAIDs in 15,834 patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Using this data they conducted two separate analyses: one that explored the risk of Alzheimer’s in users of all types of NSAIDs, and one that explored that risk among those who used aspirin only. They were interested in studying the effect of aspirin as some studies have suggested that its mechanism of action differs from that of other NSAIDs.

The pooled relative risk of Alzheimer’s among current users of NSAIDs was found to be 0.72, while the pooled relative risk for aspirin users was 0.87.

The lack of a statistically significant benefit with aspirin use may be related to the smaller number of subjects in studies involving aspirin. It is also possible that aspirin may be less beneficial than other NSAIDs.

One explanation may be that aspirin may have less anti-inflammatory effect at the lower doses commonly prescribed for the prevention of cardiovascular events than the doses typically used for NSAIDs.

Obviously, appropriate dosage, duration and risk-benefit ratios will need to be pursued further, concluded Etminan. Future prospective studies will help answer these questions over time.

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative condition that affects approximately 4 million older Americans, and for which there is no known cure. Until recently, pharmacological therapies have demonstrated limited effects in delaying onset of the disease and in treating cognitive and behavioral symptoms.

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